Recently, my best friend asked me how I came up with names for my characters. Besides the answer that would make me sound crazy – “They name themselves, silly.”—I realized that naming my characters is a little like naming a dog.
We’re in the process of getting a new dog and my husband and I started tossing out names. I realized I couldn’t truly settle on a name until I see the puppy. Years ago, when I got my beloved cocker spaniel, I had thought to name her Lady. (I’m a Disney freak.) However, when we got there, that little puppy of mine was...well, anything but a lady. She hiked her little puppy butt to one side of the cage and watched the dozen or so of her brothers and sisters peacefully asleep on the other side. Then with a running start, she leapt into the middle of them and riled them up. Lady, my …well, you get the picture. On the way home, she became Xena. Warrior puppy.
Characters are much the same in my head – their personality develops and a name either fits them or it doesn’t. Though some authors I know can write with “Jane Doe” listed as the character’s name until they pick the right one, I can’t. I have to know who I’m writing about, because for me, the name is as important as the person. I research the meaning, I consider the people I know with that same name, and mostly, I wait to see when that perfect name clicks for the character. Sometimes they are ordinary – Michael is the name of the hero in my new release. However, sometimes they aren’t. Ariadne is the name of the heroine in my second book. And for different reasons, each name fits that character like they were born with it.
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